INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Women's clothier Paul Harris plans to close its flagship store in downtown Indianapolis as part of its effort to emerge from bankruptcy.

Paul Harris executives announced this fall plans to close about 50 stores nationwide, but had delayed making a decision about their store adjacent to Circle Centre mall.

``The downtown Indy store was a significant store for us. We thought it was a significant store to the community,'' said Richard Hettlinger, the chain's chief financial officer. ``This was extremely difficult for us. We did not want to make that decision.''

The Indianapolis-based company filed for protection under Chapter 11 of U.S. bankruptcy law in October after months of watching its stock price and profits drop.

The two-year-old downtown Indianapolis store _ scheduled to close Jan. 5 _ wasn't making money, rent was high and the 8,000 square feet of space was too much, company officials said. Similar troubles occurred at the company's 14,000-square-foot downtown Chicago store, which is also set to close.

``We find out stores that do the best and have the greatest success average 4,000 square feet in size,'' said Glenn S. Lyon, Paul Harris' president and chief executive officer.

Paul Harris started the year with 319 stores before its closing announcements, which included stores in Anderson, Richmond, Bloomington and Fort Wayne.

Paul Harris continues to operate seven stores in the Indianapolis area and 30 stores statewide.